Script AnalysisThere is a lot to understand about characters and scripts if a successful movie is to be made. In order to portray their characters effectively, It is important for the actors to possess a good understanding of their respective characters. The character’s spine is a useful tool for developing true understanding between an actor and their character.

What is the Character Spine?

The spine of the character, defined simply, is the central point of the character’s personality. Out of all the personality traits the character has, the spine is what really makes the character’s being. Knowing the spine and using it as a tool helps bring some reality to the character. This would make the character seem more like a person and less like a character in a movie. The spine is the part of the character’s personality that would remain virtually constant from the beginning of the movie until the end, regardless of the events that occur during the film. However, some characters have more than one spine. The spine that is used would depend on which other character that particular character is interacting with.

The character’s spine will depend on the type or style of the movie or program. Dramatic movies tend to have a character’s spine be related to past events, usually something traumatic or otherwise sad or troubling. In an action film, the hero’s spine might be the sense of honor that the character has that leads to their heroic actions The concept of the character spine applies to antagonists as well as protagonists. The character spine for a villain might be a pivotal event in that character’s life, such as the death of a close family member, that encouraged their descent into madness. The emotional response associated with that pivotal event- perhaps a feeling of despair or injustice- becomes the driving force behind the character’s evil nature.

An understanding of the character’s spine is crucial to the actor’s portrayal of that character, their ability to capture the essence of the character’s personality. It will make the character come alive; a character that can be truly felt by the audience. In other words, the spine is the key to the actor identifying with the character in order to deliver the best performance possible. The actor needs to connect to the character on the most basic level in order to achieve a proper portrayal.

A character’s spine is not set in stone; it may be subject to change and it is also open to interpretation by a writer, a director, or an actor, each of whom may view the character’s spine differently.  The aspect of a character that each one of these people connects to in the most intimate way is the spine for that person. However, the director’s interpretation of the character’s spine can be beneficial when it comes to casting an actor for that character’s role. There are even times when an actor portraying a character will have several spines throughout the filming process. This sort of goes against the spine being a constant for the character’s personality, but then again, this changing of the spine may be necessary in order to achieve the best portrayal of a particular character. There are even spines inherent in the relationships between two different characters. In these situations, the characters’ spines may be inferred through their interactions with one another.

Who is the Main Character?

One of the things that must be determined during the script analysis and consultation is the identity of the main character. There can be a lot of misconceptions when it comes to identifying the main character. As a rule, there should be only one main character to a film, although some directors will feature multiple main characters in their films and television series. Some would argue that the main character is the character that is the most pronounced. Another argument can be made that the main character is the one who has the most screen time or the greatest number of lines. As far as the audience is concerned, the main character may be quite different from the director’s original intention. We could also argue that the main character is the one who changes the most, from the time that they are first introduced up to their final appearance.

While any of these arguments may prove to be true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is so. In other words, the aforementioned examples are not always a concrete definition of the main character’s identity. Take The Walking Dead, for instance; the series has completed three television seasons thus far. The very first episode basically begins with Rick Grimes awakening in a hospital, weak and confused, as something about the world around him seems to have changed while he was unconscious. In spite of these changes, Rick is only concerned with finding his family. He eventually becomes the leader of a group of survivors. Since the series begins with him, and he eventually becomes the leader of the primary group in the series, an argument can be made that he is the main character of the show.

Rick Grimes may not be the most captivating character on the show, but he is the main character nonetheless. In spite of that, we can also argue that the character who goes through the most changes is Daryl Dixon. He struggles with himself and his past, going through a slow but seemingly improbable transformation in the process. He distances himself from his brother, Merle Dixon, and becomes his own person, in spite of his fraternal sense of loyalty to his brother. Indeed, the group tends to be wary of him because of his loyalty to his brother, regarding him as a somewhat dangerous and unpredictable man. Over time, the group warms up to him and makes many efforts to include him, making him an integral part of the makeshift family that has developed from this group of survivors. It is ultimately the director’s interpretation of who the story is about that determines the main character.

What is the Story About?

The true meaning of a story is also subject to the director’s interpretation. The script itself may outline what the story is about, but its meaning, the underlying theme or premise of the story, can still change, even if the script remains the same A director will often know from the beginning what the story is about. Sometimes, the director may not determine the meaning until much later, or even at the end of the story.

One example that can be looked at is Pay It Forward. At first glance, it would seem that this story is about a young boy with a very ambitious idea about changing the world, which comes from an assignment given to him by his teacher. Essentially, that is the story, but what is the theme behind it? One could argue that the theme of the movie is that changing the world for the better is possible, no matter how impossible it may seem. We may also argue that the theme revolves around bad things happening to good people, since the boy ends up being killed towards the end of the movie. Another possible theme could be that the things we do in life can continue to have an impact after we die.

What the movie is about in your own mind and heart as a director may or may not coincide with what you state it is about to other people. In other words, to get someone to fund your project, you might essentially be lying when you tell that person what the movie is about when in fact your definition of the movie’s theme is at the opposite end of the spectrum. Whatever you discover, the film’s personal meaning must remain intact, regardless of what you tell anyone else.

In order to create a successful movie, the director and the actors must make a personal connection to the script, characters, and story. In order to do so, it is critical for a director to be a master of communication. This includes the director’s ability to effectively communicate the movie’s theme to the actors involved in the production. There are many ways in which an actor may connect to their: through their actual performance of the character, through the spine of the character, or through the theme of the story itself. Sometimes, it may better for the director not to communicate the theme at all, especially if they feel that doing so may prevent the actors from achieving a personal connection to the story.  Whatever the method, a director must utilize their communication abilities in order to facilitate a personal connection between the actors and the movie’s script, characters, and story.